little girlI've always bristled at the notion of old-fashioned gender roles. It's just not something that my family focused on growing up. My grandfather loved to cook. My dad was a far superior cleaner than my mom. And all the women in my family had jobs and careers. I think seeing everyone contribute to all aspects of family life made me feel as though I was never relegated to a certain role or way of life. I could be and do anything I wanted to do with my life thanks to my family's example. So I was a bit disheartened when I read a recent comment from a mom who is intent on teaching her daughters to be "little mommies" and sons to be "good providers."

She wrote:

I'm raising my daughters to be good home makers, good moms, and good wives.

I'm raising the boys to be good providers, good dads, and good husbands.

That's how I think it should be and it saddens me every time I read or hear otherwise. My most important goal in life is to be a good wife and mom. I think there would be better people and less divorces in the world if everyone did as my family does.

Of course every parent has the right to raise their kid the way they see fit. And if it works for her family, great. However, what if one or two of her children don't want to be a wife, a mother, a husband, or a father. I have several friends -- both male and female -- who don't want to have children. And some don't even want to get married.

Her parenting philosophy seems to limit the potential of both boys and girls. What happens if we encourage our child's primary hope and dream to be having a spouse and children and that never comes to fruition? I think that is an especially scary situation for a girl. I see so many women link their self-esteem to having a man. To some, being single means they have failed and that's just not right. This is not to say we shouldn't teach our daughters how to maintain a home and be a good partner, but should that be the biggest priority in this day and age?

I for one would want my daughter to focus on being able to take care of herself. Yes, that means cooking and housework as needed. But I would hope that her dreams reach way beyond domesticity. And the same goes for my boys. I want him to create his own goals and dreams and not fill beholden to some antiquated notion of what society says he should be. In fact, I know a couple of former business execs who, after having children, decided to be stay-at-home dads. While that choice isn't traditional, it's still one that works for their families.

So I would caution this mom to widen her view of what a boy and girl are supposed to grow up to be. Regardless of your gender, you should be encouraged to be a nurturer, learn how to clean, and be a good provider. Why put limits on what your child should ultimately grow up to be?

Do you think we should just teach our girls to be good homemakers and our boys to be good providers?


Image via naydeeyah/Flickr